Thursday, 20 February 2014

Phlebotomists: my thanks knows no bounds.

There are three types of people in the Phlebotomy clinic: the keenos, the nonchalants and the ohmygodIjustpassedouts.

First, lets think about the keenos.  These people don't mind blood tests; they enjoy them, even. The glance down with a morbid sort of fascination as the needle pierces their skin. If they need to have a blood test done they kind of enjoy it.  They are the physiology lovers who want to know what happens when you poke this; what happens if you pierce that. They sit in clinic with their sleeve rolled up and are ready, just as soon as their number is called.

Then, there is the nonchalant.  This person is totally 'meh' about blood tests.  They don't like them, necessarily, but they don't need a strong dose of Diazepam to get through it.  They operate on a 'gotta get it done to know what's yup' basis.  They are cool characters.  

Then there is the ohmygodIjustpassedout.  Or 'Annas', as I think of them.  You will know one, if you've ever seen it.  These people sense a blood test is happening somewhere in the next month, and begin twitching as soon as that sixth sense kicks in.  They will sit there sweating, fidgeting and panting, possibly clinging onto a loved one's hand in the waiting room.  They will not have a sleeve rolled up because that means it's happening.  And if it's happening, the world is ending.  They will hyperventilate, panic and look for the nearest escape route.  They can oft be seen bargaining with loved ones, offering to do the washing up for the next ten years if only their husband will sneak them out to the car.  He never does.

I was four years old when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This meant that I would look forward to a lifetime of six-monthly blood tests in order to check that my average glucose levels - aka the HbA1c - were steady and within range.  I was also four years old the first time they pinned me down to do this as a child, because no four year-old in their right mind would allow this to happen to them willingly.  I don't even remember who 'they' were anymore, but I remember the daffodil yellow on the right hand wall of the clinic room.  I remember screaming and crying.  I remember not understanding what I did to deserve this.  I was a good girl, wasn't I?

When I first came back to the UK I remember being sat in the hallway at the Queen Alexandra hopsital crying, because someone had mentioned within earshot of me that a blood test was needed.  I knew what this meant.  I remember the fear.  I remember being so upset I could barely take breath.  Gasps of air were all I could manage in between long, laboured cries. And I remember a nurse telling my mother I was too upset to do a blood test, so we would have to wait for another time.

Wait, what? If I'm too scared I don't need to have it done???

27 years later my mind still tells me that the more upset I get, the less likely I am to need a blood test.  Of course nowadays I realise the need for those tests and I no longer fight the nurses who have the arduous task of taking my blood.  I have figured out a routine that involves telling the phlebotomists (literally, my most respected health professional) that I'm 'not too good' at blood tests.  This usually starts up a disbelieving converstation where we cover the psychological damage of pinning down a four year-old.  Luckily, by the time I'm done telling them all about it, the test is over, and I can run for the door.

I am forever grateful for the phlebotomists who realise why I am talking non-stop.  I am grateful they realise that jibber-jabber helps me stay seated, and that they let me get to the end of my pointless, jibber-jabbering story.  I am grateful that their kindness and gentle nature helps me stay seated for these important 30 seconds.

Thank you.  

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sanofi need your help raising money for diabetes!

So Sanofi need your help! One of their top team members, Becky Reeve, has challenged the peeps at Sanofi to raise £20,000 of funds before the (fast-approaching) Diabetes UK Conference.  And she has found an ingenious way of doing it that won't cost you any of your hard-earned pennies!

All you have to do (and this is seriously easy even I did it!) is download a free app called 'Blippar' and 'blip' the Sanofi image below!  

By blipping the image whenever you see it, you will be able to download videos and updates that Sanofi will be sending out over the campaign.

And for doing this, Sanofi will donate £5 to DUK which will be spent on running organised children, young person and family events.

I've donated my £5 by blipping and watching the video, have you?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Interview with the ID Band Company

It's always refreshing when a company with a vested interest in a medical condition want to learn a little more about the people wearing their condition every day.  So when the ID Band Company got in touch saying they wanted to do a series of interviews with people with diabetes, it seemed like a great opportunity to say my bit.

Hannah Keane, on behalf of the ID Band Company Blog got in touch and put together a piece about living with type 1 from my perspective, and what was even more refreshing than having someone without type 1 asking questions using 'our' version of English (full of words like 'pumps', 'carbs' and 'individual'), was that they seemed to 'get it' when asking questions about diabetes.

We spoke about my initial struggles accepting diabetes, and about finding balance and respite in the diabetes community.

So check out the interview here, and enjoy their blog posts.  I certainly am! 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Cellnovo: Here at last!

For a number of years there was a greatly anticipated buzz in the Diabetes Community about the Cellnovo patch pump. With its sexy slim design and iPhone-like handset, along with the fact that the tubing could be extended if you really wanted it longer or be kept in patch-pump style, it was a greatly anticipated addition to the growing arsenal of diabetes tools.  

But when things went quiet after the device received CE marking in the UK, fears started growing that perhaps all was not well in Cellnovo-land.  That was, until INPUT added a certain photo to their Facebook page all the way from the Advanced Technologies and Treatments for Diabetes (ATTD) in Vienna in February 2014.

It seems that if you are in 'selected centres' in the UK, this pump is back in town!

There is only a little information out there at the moment so keep your eyes peeled on Insulin Independent's pages for updates!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Medtronic Enlite: The Next Generation sensor and grab-it-white-you-can offer !

When Medtronic released their new, much-improved Enlite sensor they certainly stepped up their game in the UK Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) market.  Thinner, more accurate and boasting a much more user-friendly inserter (for those who remember the early Sofsensor 'harpoon'.  See also 'yowzer'), it made waves.  So far over 6000 of you have clicked on that post wanting to know more.  And the great news for 2014 is that Medtronic are launching an upgrade!

The new 'Next Generation' sensor will start going out to users automatically as from Monday and you'll be able to tell if you have a box as they will have a shiny yellow sticker saying 'New'. And who doesn't love something new?!

The new sensors will benefit from:

  • Increased comfort with the implanted volume of the sensor being reduced by 80%
  • Sensor adhesive has been improved to reduce skin irritation issues
  • More consistent performance
  • Reduced likelihood of data gaps

And they now sell in single units, too.

Now if you've been thinking about CGM, perhaps because you have a Veo pump with CGM integration on stand-by, or perhaps are due for renewal and the Veo has caught your eye, you may want to have a look at Medtronic's get-you-started CGM offer.

The deal they are offering until 30th April this year, is that when you buy 1 box of New Generation Enlite sensors (5 in a box) you will get the MiniLink Transmitter for free (usually setting you back £490).  And to sweeten the deal even further, when you order you're 4th box of sensors, that box is free!  

So if you've been looking at CGM and strongly considering making it part of your self-management system, perhaps now is a good time to try it out.  After all, if you're only paying out for the sensors you would have used anyway, what have you got to lose?  

Medtronic are very keen to chat to anyone who wants to try their CGM, so get in touch to arrange contact with a rep either by phone (01923 205 167) or if you are more of an email it kind of person, contact

And as a CGM loving Dexcommer, I'd love to know how you get on!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Paraphernalia free.

Wearing an insulin pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), irrespective of how life-changing and valuable they have become to me, does come with its drawbacks: the paraphernalia, for example. 

The insulin pump is a fashion faux-pas whose clunky outline forever graces my profile. It either sits on my waistline likening me to an 80s yuppie with my pager in tow (anyone under 25, look it up), or it nestles between the 'twins', occasionally protruding and distorting the shape of my chesticle area. Much to the horror of unsuspecting onlookers. 

My CGM sensor usually graces my upper arm and although a great deal smaller, is perhaps even more obvious because upper arms aren't normally fitted with their own on/off switch. Mine is, however.

Cannulas changes happen every two days (the drawback of steel over Teflon). And CGM sensors last between two and three weeks. So paraphernalia-free baths are few and far between. I imagine planets align on a more frequent basis. But now and then, the ducks line up. 

You very quickly learn to wash paraphernalia areas with a certain caution, because a knocked-out £50 CGM sensor ruins even the most sunny day, and a pulled out cannula is no picnic. So a day when all landscape is free and clear is a treat not oft-enjoyed, but deeply treasured.

This afternoon as my 18-day CGM sensor expired and my set-change alarm piped up on my phone, I knew what delights would lie in store for me tonight. The water heater is primed to stay on that edge hour for that slightly deeper bath, and my bath bomb has been retrieved from the back of the cabinet. 

Between 8 and 9pm tonight, the door will go unanswered. 

Do you treasure the paraphernalia-free moments?